Christian Existentialism

Existentialism generally is a philosophy associated with atheism.  The majority of existentialists are atheists because the basic tenets of their belief do not comport with a God who is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and in charge of everything.

How can a stellar existentialist, who is steadfast in his independence, tolerate a controlling God?  How can an existentialist believe that he is making choices if everything is predestined by God?  How can a good existentialist believe that life is absurd and without meaning if there is a God?

Well, these are excellent questions, but there are logical answers for Christian existentialists like Soren Kierkegaard: (1) God gives us free choice and does not interfere with our decisions; (2) God created our universe outside our universe, since matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in our closed universe;  in other words, God created, but does not control our universe; (3) nothing is predetermined in our lives since we make choices and suffer the consequences;  (4) and life is absurd without God.

So, it is possible to be a Christian existentialist.  You will not have many friends or associates who agree with you, but you can always unite and communicate with the most important entity, God.  Becoming one with God should be your primary goal in life.

The first step in being a true Christian existentialist is to reject other Christians who are not authentic.  Unfortunately, this is a high percentage of modern Christians.  Most Christians go to church for social approval and cannot discuss theology or even basic concepts supporting what they really believe.  In fact, most of them don’t believe in anything other than making appearances and looking good in the community.  Their beliefs and faith in God are only skin deep.

How do you become an authentic Christian existentialist?  Well, it will be a bit controversial, but you need to reject family, peer, and social pressures to think and act a certain way.  Then you can start meditating or focusing on what you really believe.  Let God into your heart and make Him a part of this process.  Become one with God.  Seek harmony with your freedom to make choices and be prepared to accept the consequences from poor decisions.  If God is within you, you will find peace in this process.

God will remove the anxiety and existential angst in your decision making because He will lead you.  Even though you cannot see God and even though He is not inside our visible universe, He can enter your soul as the Holy Spirit and become unified with you.  Your conscience and awareness is heightened with Him inside you.  Your choices may not be perfect, but your attempts to improve your decisions with humility will be all that matters if you fully accept responsibility as one who is imperfect.

And remember: life truly is absurd and makes no sense without God.

Revelation – A Dark Corner of the Bible

My wife and I have been reading the Bible together for years.  We finally reached the last book, Revelation, which I call the dark corner of the Bible.  My wife, who is very religious, was clearly upset as we started reading this book.  Revelation, written by John, is apocalyptic in nature.  It does not paint a pretty picture of the future.  If read literally, it seems to say that only 144,000 people will enter God’s kingdom, Revelation 7:4.  That’s a very, very low percentage of the total of Homo sapiens who have populated earth for thousands of years.  My wife looked at me and was crying when she said, “I don’t have a chance.”

The notion that few people will be permitted to enter the new world is not unique to the Book of Revelation.  Jesus, discussing entrance into the kingdom of heaven, stated in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Many true Christians, who reflect on their sins, will draw a similar conclusion as my wife did.  We all have sinned, so obviously never having sinned is not the ticket to God’s universe, so we all thought that we had a pretty good chance of entering heaven.  As it turns out, the odds may be better of winning the lottery.

Actually, the people who believe that they will enter God’s heaven are the ones least likely to receive an invitation.  Typically, they go to church on Sunday, confess their sins, and then go back out Monday and start sinning again, building up their bad behavior to a crescendo on Saturday, so they can return to church on Sunday confessing their sins.

Personally, I was challenged by Revelation.  I want to be a better person because of it, and I will never stop working toward that end.  Even if I do not make the grade or pass Judgment Day, I will do my best and will not be deterred from that goal.  My wife had a different reaction to the darkness of Revelation.  She was depressed and did not want to read the book anymore.

Revelation is depressing to many believers.  These believers will be happily separated from unbelievers in Hades during the first death, with the first judgment based on belief and not works.  But the second death mentioned in Revelation 20:14 may be more problematic for believers.  Revelation 20:12 reveals a second judgment of the dead, “great and small,” which will examine what we have done with our lives.  One interpretation of the “great and small” might mean both believers and non-believers.  Thus, most believers do not want to discuss the second judgment, which may be based on their deeds or misdeeds during their lifetimes.

As I said, all of us have sinned, so we all do not want to be judged on those things that we have done in the past.  We want to believe that Jesus died for our sins, and our sin debt was paid in full.  However, that is just the first death.  Revelation gets into details on the second death and clearly indicates that the judgment on this second death will be based on our works.  This part of Revelation really upset my wife, but I explained to her that there are always consequences for our choices.  But by becoming one with God, we become a better, stronger spirit as we stand before the “great white throne” described in Revelation 20:11.

It is really quite logical.  If you were destroying the universe you had created and were repopulating a new world, you would not offer invitations to those who corrupted the old world.  You would want a fresh start with the best of the best.  Otherwise, the new universe would become just like the old.  Only those who were truly Godly would be invited.  That’s why your best chance may be to unify with God and be like Jesus during your lifetime.

If I do not make the grade, I pray that my spirit will be destroyed along with my body, so that I will not be twisting in my own thoughts for eternity.  I hope that my efforts to unite with God and follow the teachings of Jesus will earn me entry into the kingdom, but if they do not, then I would prefer destruction of my consciousness over eternal hell with my thoughts.

Revelation seems to offer three possible final destinations for all Homo sapiens, past and present:  (1) only 144,000 enter God’s kingdom, Revelation 7:4, also referenced as “the prophets and your saints” in Revelation 11:18, (2) others may be terminated as those “who destroy the earth,” Revelation 11:18, perhaps meaning that they will be in that “lukewarm” group described in Revelation 3:16 which does not take a stand and through omission allows the earth to be destroyed by evil, while (3) a third group listed as “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars” in Revelation 21:8,  will be judged according to what they have done and will be thrown into the “lake of fire,” Revelation 20:14, to reflect on their misgivings forever.

Realistically, I don’t expect to be in the first group, but I am going to work hard to be in the second which will magnanimously be put out of its misery through complete annihilation, which only the Creator can do through His grace.  Remember, nothing can be created or destroyed in our universe, but God can mercifully destroy us, if He so desires, in His universe.  The consequence of being in the third group is an unbelievably horrible punishment of being left behind in a closed universe with your own thoughts forever.  I cannot think of any sentence that would be worse.  The Bible describes this torture as “men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them,” Revelation 9:6.

John, the Gnostic

John, who is considered to be the author of the Gospel of John, the three books of John, and Revelation at the end of the Bible, is one of a handful of Gnostic writers whose works were not destroyed by the church establishment.  A majority of the books included in the Bible had no Gnostic theology at all, so it is important to examine John’s books to uncover the beliefs of an important Christian sect that was pushed into a dark corner to be hidden from future Christians.

Why were the Gnostics so feared by the church leaders?  Well, it is rather simple.  The Gnostics did not believe that clergy were required to intercede for believers to reach God.  The central thesis for the Gnostics was dualism:  the spirit is entirely good, while matter is entirely evil.  The human body and all material in the universe are bad, while God and the spirit are good.  Separation of your spirit from your body requires special knowledge.  The Greek word for knowledge is gnosis, the derivative for Gnosticism.  Thus, Gnostics believed that you unified with God and became one with God through your mind by leaving your body behind.

In the Gospel of John, the author emphasized that God would send down the Holy Spirit to help us become one with God, just like Jesus and God are one, John 17:11.  Jesus said that the Spirit will be in us, John 14:17.  Jesus is in his Father, just like he will be in you and you in him, John 14:20 and 17:22-23.  After Jesus died, he returned to command us to “receive the Holy Spirit,” John 20:22.

John’s books were included in the Bible because he was not an extreme Gnostic.  For example, some Gnostics believed in “docetism,” which meant that Jesus only seemed to have a body.  John believed some Gnostics of his day were false prophets under the influence of spirits alienated from God.  In other words, there were both evil and good spirits, and we should test the spirits, 1 John 4:1-3.  Some Gnostics, who followed Cerinthus, believed that Jesus was not in the spirit form until he was baptized by John the Baptist and then right before he died on the cross.

But John was a Gnostic in the sense that he believed that you must unify with God.  John believed that God must be in you, 1 John 4:4, and living in you, 1 John 4:12.  He stated, “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit,” John 4:13.  And John explains that it is important to have God inside you, giving you confidence and driving out any fear we might have on judgment day, 1 John 17-18.  In other words, fear could be disastrous for us in the afterlife, so if we have God inside us, we will lose much of that fear.

John also apparently believed that God’s creation was a closed universe, so that God and Jesus existed before the universe was created, John 17:5 and 17:24.  The creation must have occurred outside our universe, meaning that it has a boundary that separates it from God’s universe.  This comports with the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy, which states that mass and energy cannot be created nor destroyed within our closed universe.  Creation must occur outside the perimeter of our universe.  And God’s universe is outside and separate from our universe.  Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36.

John’s Book of Revelation is perhaps the most intriguing of his works.  If you asked twenty theologians to analyze the meanings, you would hear twenty different interpretations.  However, it is still worthwhile examining the passages.  For example, Jesus said that he was “the Alpha and the Omega,” in Revelation 1:8, meaning that he is the beginning and the end or “the First and the Last,” in Revelation 2:8.  This seems to indicate a closed universe with a beginning and an end.

Does that mean that God will destroy the entire universe?  Does that mean that we will no longer be conscious or aware?  The end of our worldly bodies is something we expect anyway.  The end of the universe is something altogether different.  If God can create our universe outside of its boundaries, He can also end it from outside.  But does that mean that after God destroys the universe that we will no longer be thinking?  Unfortunately, it seems we will not be that fortunate.

A Roman poet, Cornelius Gallus, wrote in the first century B.C., “Worse than any wound is the wish to die and yet not be able to do so.”  Revelation describes the end of times when God will select only 144,000 people to be protected from the torture and agony that is the future.  The remaining people “will seek death, but will not find it; they will want to die, but death will elude them,” Revelation 9:6.  The 144,000 are described as having God’s name on their foreheads in Revelation 14:1, which because of John’s Gnostic leanings may have meant that these citizens had God inside their thoughts and were one with God.

As mentioned in 1 John 4:1, we should test the spirits because some are evil.  Revelation describes evil spirits working to forge forces to fight in the final battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16:13-16.  Revelation does not offer any peace for people unless they unite with God.  Those who oppose God like Satan will be relegated to a fiery lake where they will be tormented for eternity, Revelation 20:10.  These may be allegorical references to torture forever within our own thoughts.  We may torture ourselves more than God ever would.  Nobody knows for certain except the Creator, who also holds the power of Destroyer.  If we were in that fiery lake, we might beg Him to destroy us and put us out of our misery, but apparently that does not happen.

At the conclusion of Revelation, Jesus mentions the Omega or ending again and then describes a new world which is outside the old universe (Alpha and Omega) in Revelation 22:13-15.  It is logical that in order to join Jesus and God in their world, you have to unite with them and become one.

Faith Comes Within

Let’s first discuss several things that we know, and then we will attempt to pursue some matters that we do not know.  We are aware of our surroundings through our five senses and thus, we believe that we are alive.  Further, we examine ourselves in mirrors and watch other people’s reaction to us, so we are fairly confident that we are alive.  We also know that we will die and that our bodies will decay because we see our comrades do that quite frequently.

We do not know if we will still be thinking after death.  If we are not thinking after death, then we can assume that there is nothing for us to be concerned about after we die.  If we can accept the fact that our transitory life was all that we had, then there is no need for religion or philosophy, except for the purpose of assisting us in finding a purpose in our short journey through life.

But what if we are still thinking after death?  That can be very problematic.  What will you think about?  Will you have your senses to entertain you or will you be encased in the darkness without any distractions, leaving you to face perhaps your greatest enemy – yourself.  For clearly, your thoughts may remain calm for the first hour or so, but when will the nightmares start?  And you can be sure that they will start.  Without anything to hold onto, you will eventually start to hallucinate.  We know this from monitoring subjects who were tortured with sensory deprivation techniques.

If you are still thinking at death, then your faith becomes paramount to keep from losing your mind.  It is critical that you believe in something very, very strongly.  Only a powerful belief can overcome the trauma and chaos in this hellish environment.

The Bible, I think, is the greatest book ever written, but most readers, including many ministers, do not attempt to understand it.  Most religious followers are more interested in a social gathering than actually addressing difficult and controversial subjects in the Bible.

For example in John 17:21, the King James Version of the Bible states:  “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, are in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”  This comment made by Jesus was a direction for us to follow if we were still thinking after death.  He appeared to be saying that we should have both Jesus and God within us to assist us in this process.

Most ministers preach that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one, but few instruct that we must also be one with God and Jesus.  The Holy Trinity becomes the Holy Quadrinity.  Being one with God is a concept more like what the Gnostics and eastern religions taught.  Yet, the reason behind it would be very clear if you were still thinking at death.  Rather than imagining you saw Jesus, He would actually be inside you, directing you through the hellish chaos.

Faith must come from within and be our compass of control through chaos.  We must be constantly vigilant against our own thoughts that can trip us up and betray us.

In God We Trust

I have always been an independent Christian.  I never had many Christian friends because most of them aren’t really Christians.  Most Christians that I have met over the years go to church on Sunday as a social gathering and then sin without remorse the entire next week.

I only have met a handful of them who actually want to discuss the Bible and even fewer who venture into controversial areas like how many heavens there are and how difficult it actually is to enter the second and third heavens.  See 2 Corinthians 12:2 re: three heavens, and Matthew 7:14 re: the difficulty in finding heaven.

So, how can such an independent pioneer ask you to turn your life over to God?  How can I say that you should trust God, letting the Holy Spirit enter your body and take over your soul?  How can I ask you to give up your independence?

Well, it is quite simple.  If you don’t, when you die, you will be lost.  Think of death as a journey into an uncharted wilderness with obstacles at every turn.  How could you take such a journey without a guide?  I would be one of the first to try it on my own, but I know the consequences are horrific if I do so.  God is the only tour guide that you can trust to steer you through the chaos of afterlife.

When you die, if you are still thinking, then you may find yourself in a dark place with no illumination.  You need a guide to provide the light so that you can find your way.  An eternity of dark, damp chaos would not be a fair price for retaining your independence.  Initially, you might think that you can find your way, but after long hours of searching for a way out, your soul would probably hallucinate and create nightmares with your worst phobias as the leading villains.

If you were afraid of high places, you would find yourself teetering on a ridge high in the Andes.  If you feared tight places, you would find yourself wedged headfirst in a restricted sewer tunnel with no room to breathe.  If you were afraid of being buried alive, you would find yourself inside a stuffy coffin buried deep under the earth.  And these agonizing nightmares could go on forever.

That’s why you need a guide… a guide you can trust.  That would be God.  You will have to give up your independence and turn the steering wheel over to Him, but in God you can trust.